This is the purest form of documentary: it simply presents its subject, lets the people talk and does no moralising or manipulation at all. There’s no voice over narration to tell us what to think and director Patton deftly avoids the politics to tell a meaningful, intimate story about one person’s attempt to find a place she belongs.
“Creature” was the nickname given to Kyle Dean in school–because he was a boy who wants to be a girl. And as soon as he could, he headed from rural North Carolina to Hollywood and a world where he could fit in, only to be faced with prostitution, rape and a circle of friends (including Ascencio, aka Barbarella) who are as desperate as he is. Then things start to fall into place and Kyle finds solace as Stacey, a pre-op transsexual. But there’s one thread still dangling: her Bible-believing parents (Butch & Dusty) back home. So she sets off with the film crew to see them again after nearly four years.
The honesty in this film is startling; these people talk openly about their thoughts and feelings. And there’s a growing feeling of suspense here too: How will Mom & Dad react? They talk openly about their disapproval of Stacey’s life, and yet their overwhelming love for their child comes through loud and clear. Patton somehow avoids coming down on any side–Stacey isn’t a freak, nor is she perfectly normal. She’s just one person struggling to fit in. It took him five years to make this 64-minute film, and the span of time makes it even more remarkable–watching the transformation is uncanny. And as Stacey is reunited with her family, the film works wonders–grabbing our hearts and showing us that Stacey’s story isn’t that different from our own. Really.